#### jonah2.0

##### Full Member
Beer soaked ramblings follow.

Teacher: "If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven."

Teacher: "No, listen carefully... If I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven."

Teacher: "Let me put it to you differently. If I gave you two apples, and another two apples and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Six."

Teacher: "Good. Now if I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven!"

Teacher: "Johnny, where in the heck do you get seven from?!"

Johnny: "Because I've already got a freaking cat!"

#### Harry_the_cat

##### Elite Member
Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Here's another kid you couldn't possibly mark wrong!
I think it shows we, as teachers, need to be really careful how we phrase our questions.

#### jonah2.0

##### Full Member
Beer induced reaction follows.
Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Here's another kid you couldn't possibly mark wrong!
I think it shows we, as teachers, need to be really careful how we phrase our questions.

View attachment 28434
It is indeed hard to mark that kid's answer as wrong.
I hope that kid got full marks.

#### HallsofIvy

##### Elite Member
I'm not sure I would agree. There is a difference between putting WORDS in alphabetical order and putting LETTERS in alphabetical order.

(I am reminded of a "Little Rascals" short where the teacher asks "Billy, what is three 'n one?" and is shocked when he aswers "oil".)

#### Harry_the_cat

##### Elite Member
I'm not sure I would agree. There is a difference between putting WORDS in alphabetical order and putting LETTERS in alphabetical order.

(I am reminded of a "Little Rascals" short where the teacher asks "Billy, what is three 'n one?" and is shocked when he aswers "oil".)
The question is not to PUT the words in alphabetical order. It says to WRITE the words in alphabetical order. If you were asked to write the word "apple" in alphabetical order, the answer would be "aelpp". I don't think you could mark the kid wrong.

#### Otis

##### Elite Member
… as teachers, need to be really careful …
Maybe Halls is trying to prove your point, Harriett. (He did say he's not sure.)

#### HallsofIvy

##### Elite Member
But the question also said "The order they come in the alphabet"
Since "letters" were never mentioned, grammatically, "they" can only refer to "words".
1. apple
2. fox
3. log
4. pond
5. pumpkin
6. river

#### Harry_the_cat

##### Elite Member
I think "the order they come in the alphabet" should be "the order they come in the dictionary". Letters can be placed in the order they come in the alphabet, words can't.

#### Harry_the_cat

##### Elite Member
But the question also said "The order they come in the alphabet"
Since "letters" were never mentioned, grammatically, "they" can only refer to "words".
1. apple
2. fox
3. log
4. pond
5. pumpkin
6. river
Pretty sure that's the answer that was expected.

#### Jomo

##### Elite Member
My daughter, when she was in 1st grade (something like that) she had to write down the word apple 10 times. This was so she could hopefully learn how to spell apple.
She wrote down 10 a's on 10 different lines.
Then next to each of the a's, she wrote down p.
Then next to each of the p's she wrote down p.
etc.

In the end, her paper was perfect. I tried to explain to her that writing down the words the way she did meant that she missed the reason for the homework. At 6 years old, she did not understand that, but did do the rest of the words the way I asked her to.
Sometimes students do their homework correctly but still miss the whole point of the assignment.

The student above, in my opinion did what was asked. If I was grading the homework assignment, after laughing for a moment, I'd give the student an A.

#### Jomo

##### Elite Member
Beer soaked ramblings follow.

Teacher: "If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven."

Teacher: "No, listen carefully... If I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven."

Teacher: "Let me put it to you differently. If I gave you two apples, and another two apples and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Six."

Teacher: "Good. Now if I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"

Johnny: "Seven!"

Teacher: "Johnny, where in the heck do you get seven from?!"

Johnny: "Because I've already got a freaking cat!"
This is actually very funny.

#### JeffM

##### Elite Member
Halls is obviously correct that the object of “write” is “words.” And the pronoun “they” should, as a matter of rhetoric rather than grammar, have an antecedent. (It is not a violation of English grammar to have a missing or ambiguous antecedent.) But here the word “they” has a clear antecedent, namely “words.”

The defect in the problem lies in the phrase “in alphabetical order.” You cannot by the rules of English grammar determine whether that means to write the letters of each individual word in alphabetical order or to reorder the list of words by the initial letters of the words listed. And the parenthetical makes it worse because even a cat knows that the alphabet does not contain words.

As adults, we are familiar with the concept of ordering a list of words by the initial letter of each word. But the concept may be unknown to a six or seven year old. What makes this a horrible, awful, no-good problem is that the author clearly recognized, by offering the parenthetical, that a child might not have the SOCIAL experience to interpret “write words in alphabetical order” to mean “re-order the list of given words in ascending alphabetical order by the words’ initial letters.”

The author of this problem forgot the intended audience.

#### Harry_the_cat

##### Elite Member
My daughter, when she was in 1st grade (something like that) she had to write down the word apple 10 times. This was so she could hopefully learn how to spell apple.
She wrote down 10 a's on 10 different lines.
Then next to each of the a's, she wrote down p.
Then next to each of the p's she wrote down p.
etc.
That reminds me of taping two pens together when you had to write out "I must not talk in class" 50 times. Reduced the punishment time in half. Didn't work so well with three or four pens though!

#### Jomo

##### Elite Member
That reminds me of taping two pens together when you had to write out "I must not talk in class" 50 times. Reduced the punishment time in half. Didn't work so well with three or four pens though!
You should have tried copy and paste.

#### Harry_the_cat

##### Elite Member
You should have tried copy and paste.
What? With tracing paper and glue?

#### Otis

##### Elite Member
If tracing paper is the same as carbon paper, skip the paste. (Press hard.)